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Coordination committee to take over Punjab, KP govts’ advertising; APNS slams efforts to curtail media independence

June 23, 2021
Coordination committee to take over Punjab, KP govts’ advertising; APNS slams efforts to curtail media independence

KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has strongly lamented the perpetual efforts of the federal government to curtail the independence of the media, it stated in its press release.

The Executive Committee of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society held its meeting on June 21, 2021 in Lahore, chaired by Sarmad Ali, President, APNS. The committee considered the recent decision of the federal government wherein a Coordination Committee has been formed under the PIO to take over the advertising of Punjab and KP governments under its control.

The APNS rejected notification as the stipulated action is not only a gross contravention of the 18th Amendment and curbing the provincial autonomy but a devastating attempt to curtail the quantum of advertisements for the print media.

The formation of the committee is aimed at strangulating the freedom of press and independence of the media. The APNS apprehended that it would be used to silence the dissenting voices in the press through the use of advertisements of federal and provincial governments as a lever through the Central Federal Government Committee.

The Executive Committee urged upon the federal government to withdraw the notification immediately. The Executive Committee noted that earlier the Ministry of Information issued a Concept Paper for the establishment of Media Authority which was also an attempt to tighten the Federal Government control over the media from one platform despite the fact that the electronic and print media are separate entities with their own defined features.

The move was rejected by the APNS and other stakeholders as unconstitutional and a fetter on the freedom of press. The Concept Paper had proposed a licensing system which is prior restraint on the freedom of press.

The Concept Paper also envisages councils and media tribunals to replace Press Council of Pakistan, Wage Board for employees and the ITNE. The Executive Committee of the APNS unanimously rejected the proposal to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority.

The APNS Executive Committee also expressed its grave concern over the non-payment of dues of member publications against the advertisements released by the Punjab government despite assurances by the provincial information department. The members observed that the APNS avoided legal recourse for recovery of the dues as a gesture of cooperation but the provincial government failed to reciprocate positively. The Executive Committee therefore, authorized the President and the Secretary General to file a suit for recovery against the Punjab Government if the dues are not cleared by June 30, 2021.

The Executive Committee noted that the Balochistan based newspapers were consistently deprived of their due share in the Federal Government advertising. The members, in a resolution, urged upon the Ministry of Information to increase the quantum of ads for Balochistan based newspapers.

The Executive Committee adopted a special resolution to condole the sad demise of veteran publisher and editor Zia Shahid and acknowledged his services for the promotion of the profession. The members also offered Fateha on the demise of the mother of Najamuddin Sheikh, Chief Editor, Daily Deyanat and Ghalib Mansoor, Deputy Managing Director, M/s. Adarts Karachi (Pvt.) Ltd. It adopted the report of the Advertising Committee on the applications of advertising agencies. It also granted provisional accreditation to M/s. Sound and Vision (Pvt.) Ltd., Lahore and M/s. Exuberance Advertising (SMC) Pvt. Ltd., Karachi. The application for confirmation of accreditation of M/s. Adage Communications (Pvt.) Ltd., Islamabad was granted subject to provision of additional guarantee.

The Executive Committee also granted associate membership to Daily Tehalka, Gujranwala, Daily Jurat, Muzaffarabad, Daily Islamabad Post, Islamabad, Daily Wahdat, Rawalpindi, Daily Karnama, Vehari and Daily Sahafat, Muzaffarabad.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister, Punjab joined the meeting of the Executive Committee and elaborated the media policies of the Government of the Punjab. She stated that the DGPR is very much active to expedite the payment of dues of print media and has already paid Rs.18 crores to advertising agencies whereas a substantial amount will be paid by June 30, 2021. The remaining amount is also to be realised from clients departments.

The meeting was attended by Sarmad Ali, President, Jamil Athar, Sr. Vice President, Shahab Zuberi, Vice President, Nazafreen Saigol Lakhani, Secretary General and others.